So you have been named an executor. Now what?

So You've Been Named An Executor. Now what?

Mar-20 2024

You’ve been named an executor? What an honor! We know it’s an honor that comes with significant responsibilities and we are here to help you make sense of them and feel confident that you know exactly what this position entails. This role requires careful attention to detail, organization, and a commitment to fulfilling the wishes of the deceased. If you find yourself in this position, it's essential to understand the steps involved and the role you'll play in settling the estate. 

So what do you do? Simply follow this 8-step plan to feel comfortable being the best executor you can be: 

1 - Familiarize Yourself with the Estate Plan 

As an executor, you are responsible for overseeing the administration of the estate. Your primary duty is to carry out the wishes outlined in the deceased person's estate plan. Start by collecting all the relevant documents, including the will, financial statements, insurance policies, property deeds, and any other paperwork related to the estate. 

Take inventory of the deceased person's assets, which may include real estate, investments, bank accounts, personal belongings, and more. Read all documentation thoroughly to ensure you have all the information you need to properly carry out your role as executor. 

2 - Let People Know

Notify the beneficiaries named in the will, as well as any creditors, of the deceased person's passing. This includes sending out formal notifications and publishing a notice in local newspapers, if required by law. This step ensures that all interested parties have the opportunity to come forward and make their claims against the estate.

3 - Review Your Resources 

Being an executor can be a complex and time-consuming process, especially if the estate is large or involves intricate financial matters. Check in with yourself to figure out if this is a task you can handle on your own. You may consider hiring professionals, such as attorneys, accountants, or financial advisors, to provide guidance and support throughout the process. Their expertise can help ensure that you fulfill your duties effectively and minimize the risk of errors or legal complications.

4 - Understand the Legal Proceedings

It is important that you familiarize yourself with the legal proceedings of your state for each section of the estate plan to ensure compliance with the law. For instance, in some cases, the estate will need to go through the probate process, which is the legal process of validating the will and distributing assets. You can consider consulting with an attorney to understand the specific requirements and procedures in your jurisdiction or doing some independent research. 

5 - Settle Outstandings

After the estate has been through probate, it's crucial to settle any outstanding debts and taxes owed by the estate. This includes notifying creditors, paying bills, and filing the final tax returns on behalf of the deceased person. It's advisable to seek assistance from an accountant or tax professional to ensure compliance with tax laws.

6 - Distributing Remaining Assets

Once all debts and taxes have been paid, you can distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the instructions in the will. Keep meticulous records of all transactions and obtain the necessary releases or acknowledgments from the beneficiaries to protect yourself from future disputes.

7 - Open Communication 

Throughout the entire process, maintain open and transparent communication with the beneficiaries and interested parties. Provide regular updates on the estate's progress, respond to inquiries promptly, and address any concerns that arise. Clear communication fosters trust and helps prevent misunderstandings or conflicts.

8 - Close the Estate 

Once all the assets have been distributed, debts settled, and all necessary legal and financial obligations fulfilled, you can close the estate. Consult with your attorney to ensure all requirements have been met, and obtain any necessary releases or legal documents to officially conclude your role as the executor.

Remember, being named an executor is both a privilege and a responsibility. During this time, prioritize self-care and seek support when needed. Don't hesitate to lean on family, friends, or support groups for assistance and understanding during this challenging time. While it can be demanding, it is also an opportunity to honor the wishes of the deceased and assist their loved ones. 

Being named an executor may give you the push you need to create your own estate plan, get started with GoodTrust today, here.